Fuel costs account for 60% of all operational fleet expenses. Switching to an electric fleet can reduce these costs and enable fleet operators to improve energy management, reduce costs, and streamline business objectives.
In this EV fleet guide, we’ll cover the following topics:
- What is an EV fleet?
- Benefits of fleet electrification
- Charging of an electric fleet
- Maintenance and expenses of an EV fleet
Let’s dive in.
What Is an EV Fleet?
An EV fleet is a fleet of vehicles containing electric vehicles. EV fleets are of two types:
- Completely Electric: All vehicles are battery electric vehicles (BEVs)
- Partially Electric: Vehicles can be a mix of BEVs, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEs).
Electric vehicles are more sustainable than ICEs. Hence, many logistics and trucking businesses are shifting entirely or partially to BEVs and PHEVs. This process of transition of fleets from ICEs to EVs is known as fleet electrification.
What Is EV Fleet Management?
Electric fleet management or EV fleet management involves managing and maintaining a fleet of electric vehicles and their drivers. This process includes everything from handling the charging needs of the EVs to taking care of bigger issues like repairs. One of the biggest tasks for EV fleet managers is to eliminate range anxiety by setting up a reliable charging infrastructure.
Benefits of an Electric Vehicle Fleet
Switching entirely or partially to an EV fleet can offer various benefits to fleet operators. Here’s why you should switch to an EV fleet.
The new fleet regulations in the UK require fleet operators to keep their emissions in check. According to the Low Emission Zone (LEZ), heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), heavy vans, coaches, and buses must adhere to the new Euro VI standards, which specify the maximum emissions of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.
Besides, fleet operators must comply with Bath’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ), Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone, and other clean air zones the government will introduce later.
Since electric vehicles don’t emit gases or particulate matter, fleet operators can fulfil these requirements and run their businesses with confidence.
Energy Savings and Lower Expenses
Even though fuel costs have been stable in the UK, containing fuel expenditure is one of the focus areas of fleet operators. Fuel costs are the second-largest contributor to the cost of ownership after depreciation. Also, it accounts for 60% of the total fleet operational expenses. Hence, reducing fuel costs can help you lower your operating expenses.
Electric vehicles are now available for a similar price as ICEs. However, the lifetime costs of running them are significantly low. In fact, the annual running cost of an electric vehicle is 21% cheaper than a petrol-fueled vehicle. Fuel operators can, therefore, can enjoy substantial cost savings by switching to an electric fleet.
Reduced Maintenance Costs
Maintenance costs are another critical factor fleet operators need to address. Maintaining an EV is cheaper than maintaining a fuel car. The single-biggest maintenance expense in an electric vehicle is replacing the battery. The current estimates state that an EV battery could last for 10-20 years, and the cost of replacement is around £8,000. Apart from that, the maintenance costs are low, provided that you have a robust charging infrastructure.
Reduced expenses result in higher profitability. When fleet operators spend too much on fuel and maintenance, their profits shrink. An electric fleet has lower costs, and hence, is more profitable.
Lower Environmental Impact
Electric vehicles have negligible emissions and are environment-friendly. With pollution and climate change becoming major issues, logistics companies need to lower their environmental impact.
Adding electric vehicles to your fleet helps you do that. You can reduce your impact significantly by having an entire fleet of electric vehicles. If you want to reduce your environmental impact and costs even further, you can use renewable power sources like solar energy.
Vehicle Charging in an Electric Fleet
Establishing a reliable charging infrastructure is one of the first steps in fleet electrification. Here, fleet operators have two options:
- Set up an EV charging infrastructure
- Partner with charging services
Let’s talk about setting up a charging infrastructure first. A charging facility consists of the following elements:
- Transformers: Devices that amplify (step-up) or reduce (step-down) voltage
- Electricity Grid: An interconnected delivery network to transmit electricity from the charging station to the EV
- Charging Stations: Physical stations with power outlets to park and charge electric vehicles
- Meter: A machine to track and record the amount of electricity used
Setting up a complete charging infrastructure provides more control over the fleet. It also enables home charging. However, this process is costly and time-consuming.
Alternatively, you can partner with an EV charging solution provider, like ChargePoint, Pod Point, InstaVolt, etc. and use their charging stations. This method is faster and affordable, but you may not have complete control over the charging and electricity usage.
Cost of Maintaining Electric Vehicle Fleets
There are two types of costs associated with running and maintaining any fleet:
- Fixed Costs: Insurance, taxes, licenses and permits, loans, and depreciation
- Operating Costs: Fuel, part replacement, tolls, detailing, parking, etc.
Fixed costs are established costs, and they don’t change regardless of how you use the vehicles and manage your fleet. The price of the vehicles you include in your fleet could impact these costs. Since electric vehicles are slightly more expensive than fossil fuel vehicles, the initial fixed costs can be high. Also, some fleet operators may want to install their charging stations to facilitate EV charging. It will attract more initial costs associated with installing charging stations.
Operating costs of electric vehicle fleets are low. As discussed, fuel costs make more than half of all fleet management expenses. The fuel for a petrol car costs around 15p per mile. For an electric vehicle, it reduces to under 5p per mile — 3x less expensive than a petrol vehicle. The maintenance costs are also 40% lower for electric vehicles.
Other operating costs are almost similar for both electric and fuel vehicles. These include part replacement, tools, parking, detailing, etc.
Maintenance of Electric Vehicles in a Fleet
Electric vehicles need less maintenance than combustion engine vehicles, but they still require regular upkeep. Here are some essential tips for maintaining an EV fleet.
Ensure Regular Servicing
Even though servicing requirements of EVs are low, it’s advisable to schedule servicing of your fleet at the same intervals as fuel vehicles. Renault recommends EV owners get their vehicle serviced after every 30,000 kilometres.
Replace the Fluids
Electric trucks need a fluid top-off once in a while. They don’t need an oil change like combustion vehicles, but you must monitor the coolant levels of the thermal management system. The same goes for the brake fluid and windshield washer liquid.
Monitor the Tires
Electric vehicles are heavier than ICE vehicles because of a larger battery and instant torque delivery. Hence, the tires of an EV are more prone to wear and tear, and you should inspect them more often. It’s advisable to replace tires every six years.
Service the Brakes
Electric vehicles come with a regenerative braking system, which is easier on the braking pads. Yet, brakes require regular servicing. You can use brake pads to slow down the wear and tear, but it’s essential to monitor their condition regularly.
Timely Battery Replacement
The EV battery doesn’t require regular maintenance, but it does have a life span. Electric car batteries last 10-20 years, but you should replace them every 150,000 kilometres. Not replacing the battery on time can cause performance issues and increase maintenance costs.
With fuel costs and maintenance expenses rising, fleet managers are shifting to EV fleets. Fleet electrification has many benefits, such as improved energy management, reduced expenses, and more. However, the shift needs to be strategic to avoid any business disruption.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is the biggest EV company?
Presently, Tesla is the biggest EV manufacturer in the world with a 21% market share in the fully-electric vehicles segment. SAIC Motor, Volkswagen Group, BYD, and Hyundai are the next four biggest companies in the EV space.
What does EV fleet mean?
Any EV fleet is a fleet that contains electric vehicles. The fleet can be completely electric with all-electric vehicles or partially electric with a mix of electric and non-electric vehicles. An EV fleet also comprises employees training in driving electric vehicles.
What is fleet charging?
Fleet charging refers to the charging of vehicles in an EV fleet. It can be of three types: First, the employees charge the EV at home, so the EV is fully charged in the morning. Second, they leave the EV at the depot and let it charge overnight. Third, they charge the EV at public charging stations.
Who is in charge of fleets?
A fleet manager is in charge of fleets. Fleet management is a specialized field of logistics that involves handling mechanical diagnostics, driver behaviour, and geo-fencing. Nowadays, fleet managers use fleet management software systems to automate several redundant tasks.